I wanted to post a good piece but after reading an account of collective punishment visited on Palestinian civilians in Nablus from January 27 of this year I can find nothing to say.
I wanted to write something hopeful, positive, uplifting, for crying out loud. While gleaning the "news" for a long while, searching for a ray of hope I found my thoughts coming back again and again to this letter, with photos, written by Anne Gwynne.
A bit of Bio on Ms. Gwynne:
Anne Gwynne is a member of the International Federation of Journalists. She is a 66-year-old grandmother and retired bank manager from Wales who writes and reports from the ancient city of Nablus where she has worked with the Palestine Medical Relief Society.
People here in the US are insulated by the media from firsthand accounts of abuse suffered by Palestinian citizens under the authority of the Israeli Defense Forces. I urge you to read "'Eid Al-Adhar in Nablus: A Night of Terror and Destruction (with photos)" to get a sense of what occurs in the Occupied Territories under the brute power of the Israeli occupiers.
Here are some snippets to show why I found this account more important, more compelling than anything I feel I can write about from the warmth and security of my home.
That night, these 800 ‘soldiers’ completely sealed off the area of the Old City and the start of the residential suburb of Raffidiya, between Shari’a Raffidiya and Shari’a Jaffa , around the Shari’a Najah Al-Qadima: an area of huge family houses wherein live the extended families which are the backbone of this great city – as many as thirty persons to each 20-30 room building.
At 9.00 pm ‘soldiers’ ordered some of the residents out of their homes at gunpoint – without coats or shoes and many in their pyjamas – into the torrential rain. They were handcuffed and blindfolded, then pushed and shoved with guns to the old An-Najah University building. The men were separated from the women and the children from them all. Some were locked into a nearby hair-salon. Without food or drink, warmth or access to a lavatory, they were penned like sheep for the next nine hours: listening to the screams of one ten-year old boy who was taken and tortured and beaten for several hours; and rocked by four massive bombs with all the terror and trauma which that brings. They were, however, the lucky ones: many others were alone in their homes unaware of what was going to happen to them. The ‘officer’ in ‘charge’ of the ‘prisoners’ gleefully reiterated that “we will destroy not only this one but four buildings”.
Further into the letter
I almost forgot to mention the so-called objective of all this terrorism which is so overwhelming that it is as though the terror is the objective – which, indeed, I guess it is. The IOF say they were looking for a man whom their spy said was in the Shakhshiir – but everyone knows that he has not been seen in Nablus for 10 years. In any case, the Israelis went through the building first, cleared everyone out and knew it was empty. They became angry when they did not find who they were looking for, and they used so much explosive that they destroyed the whole neighbourhood. Even suppose they had found the guy – they could have arrested him. Where else on earth do 800 soldiers, tanks, Apaches come to arrest one man? And where else is a whole area demolished in an illegal act of collective punishment – punishment not because anyone was there but because he was not!
Please read the letter. Explore the photo's offered. We need to know about this as US citizens; the money and arms to do this come from our taxes. We as a nation, a nation who's leader speaks platitudes about concepts like "freedom", like "liberty" on the world stage are complicit in these atrocities, even in our ignorance. We pay for them.
As always, Israel will be America's largest aid recipient this year, with $2.2 billion in military aid and $480 million in civilian aid. Under an agreement signed by Israel and the U.S. in the late 1990s, the civilian aid package is being gradually reduced each year and will be phased out entirely in 2008, while the military aid package is increased each year by half the reduction in the civilian aid.
In addition to its regular aid package, Israel will also receive some $3 billion in loan guarantees from the U.S. this year.